You never know what kind of stories people have, especially where veterans are concerned. For instance, some may only see a senior receiving hospice care in the Dubuque area. But a few decades earlier, he might have put his life on the line to help our country’s freedom.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice truly enjoy learning about what kind of interesting lives our clients had prior to us meeting them. We know that many of them, men and women alike, served in different roles in the armed forces.
Whether they served in wartime, in peacetime, or both times, they did so honorably. That’s why it’s important to appreciate their efforts, whether they happened a few years ago or decades ago.
November is a perfect time to recognize veterans in your life and learn about other community activities taking place and spread the word.
Traditionally, Nov. 11 is Veterans Day, a national holiday created to celebrate any veteran, living or deceased. It has a slightly different focus than Memorial Day in May, which recognizes members of the military who have passed away.
The November occasion started as Armistice Day, which recognized the end of World War I in 1918 – the 11th day, 11th hour, and 11th minute. It became a national holiday in 1926.
In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower expanded the focus to include all veterans in any capacity. He also created a cabinet-level position to be the director of Veteran’s Administration.
In 1996, President Bill Clinton further increased the opportunities to help and give attention to our veterans.
Not only is Nov. 11 a day of celebration, but all of November has also been declared National Veterans and Military Family Appreciation Month.
This not only allows people to recognize the role of people currently or previously enlisted but also gives attention to the role of their families in supporting them.
There are traditionally many public events in November at schools, cemeteries, parks, and community centers, but some of these might have to be canceled or modified this year due to COVID-19 restrictions over large gatherings of crowds.
But even if you or a loved one can’t get out to recognize the role of veterans in your area, there are still things families can do to show your appreciation and honor veterans.
- Send cards or gifts. Whether someone is currently serving or has served in the past, everyone appreciates a note saying “thanks.” You and your family can write cards to people living in Veterans Administration facilities, official Veterans Homes, or contact a local group like the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars to see if they can connect you to veterans in your area. Or you can consider sending cards or care packages to active-duty personnel. You may not know them personally but can send kind thoughts.
- Help veterans groups. Many veterans face challenges when they return from service. This can include difficulties finding employment, education, or even basic services like housing. Though there are support organizations and charities that focus on many of these areas, many are already stretched thin due to the growing number of veterans due to current conflicts. Many rely on volunteer support and donations, so anything you can do to share your skills and enthusiasm will likely be welcome.
- Help other charities. Many veterans deal with mental health treatment or substance abuse, so efforts to help these types of programs can benefit everyone. More and more advances have been made in areas that help with depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or other anxieties, which affect many people. If attention can be given to veterans first, other non-veterans can benefit as well.
- Tell a story. We are a country that loves its veterans as well as its history. Everyone has a different perspective on serving as well. But as time goes by, we lose more and more of these first-hand accounts of life in the military. For instance, fewer and fewer World War II and Korea veterans are still alive. If you are a veteran, consider sharing your story. This can be as simple as you writing down your memories. It doesn’t have to be in “novel” form either – some of the best records from the Civil War or Revolutionary War were personal journals or letters home instead of the “official account” of the experience. If you’re more of a storyteller vs. writer, you can have a friend, family, or local historian record your memories. Or, if you’re not a veteran, but want to help, offer to assist a veteran in your community to tell his or her story. Arrange weekly gatherings to hear and chronicle their memories for a few hours each visit. That way they won’t get too overwhelmed or exhausted. These memories will be useful for not just future historians but family members.
Overall, there’s plenty of ways to help veterans in your community and let them know they’re appreciated and honored.